Reverse osmosis (RO) is a treatment technology that may be used for the recovery of graywater terrestrially as well as the recovery of wastewater on board long duration, manned space flights. As with terrestrial RO applications, concentration polarization and membrane fouling lead to decreased productivity and increased energy demands with time. Physiochemical and biological pretreatment options can enhance the performance of the RO system; also, biological pretreatment has the advantages of low energy and consumable requirements as compared to other physiochemical pretreatment options. To determine the degree to which the incorporation of biological treatment enhances RO performance, a series of bench-scale experiments were performed. Observed resistances indicate that biological pretreatment alleviated the degree of non-reversible fouling while also improving the rate of permeate flux in a downstream RO process to further treat water. Results also indicated that enhanced urea hydrolysis, pH reduction, and carbon oxidation serve as the primary benefits of biological pretreatment of space-based graywater. The observations of this study may also benefit engineers considering the treatment of graywaters for terrestrial water-reuse applications.

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